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How do I explain the weird start to my career?

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Manager
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Joined: 20 Dec 2011
Posts: 54
Location: United States
Concentration: Entrepreneurship, International Business
GMAT 1: 750 Q46 V48
Followers: 1

Kudos [?]: 14 [0], given: 0

How do I explain the weird start to my career? [#permalink] New post 21 Dec 2011, 04:46
Hi guys,

I was hoping to get your insights on how I might best address my early career in business school applications. It makes for good conversation at cocktail parties, but looks awkward jammed into checkable boxes.

After graduation, I spent a year on a prestigious teaching fellowship in China's rust belt. The experience was ludicrous. In addition to my official position teaching history at a university, I scored (completely undeserved) modeling gigs, provided legal advice on American patents, and toured the countryside as a semi-professional basketball player (we were paid mostly in rice wine). At the end of year, I sent out some stories, and found an agent who asked me to turn my experience into a book.

I spent the next year writing and peddling the thing. (In that time - about 5 months after I came back - I was offered a job promoting Broadway Tours in China. However, the company's China launch kept being pushed back until finally the board of directors canceled the China initiative.)

At year's end, I finally sold the rights of the book to a publisher in China. Thanks to copies of the manuscript floating around, I was also offered a stringer position at a famous business magazine. For the next two years, I worked as a journalist primarily for that magazine, but also contributing regularly to other publications (most of which you would be familiar with).

In late 2007, I started a company (inspired by features I had written on the sector). I have since built it from a fledgling startup into a profitable venture (recently valued at 10 million dollars) with operations in 15 cities in China.

That's the background - here are my questions....

1) How do I even enter my early experience into the online applications? My work as a journalist was most definitely full time. I worked long hours and made a full time journalist's living (nothing to brag about). That said, it would be incorrect to list any of my publications (even the primary one) as a full-time job in the traditional sense.

2) How much should I mention/explain this early work, if at all? I absolutely loved Journalism and learned a great deal from it. Although the path may seem non-linear, it was also instrumental in preparing me for entrepreneurship (a fact, I am sure, is not obvious at first glance). That said, my career goals and reasons for pursuing an MBA are much more closely related to my current position. I am not at a loss for entrepreneurship stories, and these tie more neatly in to the most common essay themes (leadership, team-building, etc). I don't want to ignore the early years, especially if it might spook or confuse the adcom, but I am hesitant to use an entire essay on older stories, less relevant stories.


Thanks for all your great work on this forum. Don't know what I'd do without you.
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Schools: Brown University, Harvard Business School
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Re: How do I explain the weird start to my career? [#permalink] New post 22 Dec 2011, 00:44
Expert's post
1) How do I even enter my early experience into the online applications? My work as a journalist was most definitely full time. I worked long hours and made a full time journalist's living (nothing to brag about). That said, it would be incorrect to list any of my publications (even the primary one) as a full-time job in the traditional sense.

Well obviously you are just gonna have to tell them the story which you just wrote above, which um, kicks ass!
If you are worried about checkable boxes, freelancer journalist will do, of freelance writer.

2) How much should I mention/explain this early work, if at all? I absolutely loved Journalism and learned a great deal from it. Although the path may seem non-linear, it was also instrumental in preparing me for entrepreneurship (a fact, I am sure, is not obvious at first glance). That said, my career goals and reasons for pursuing an MBA are much more closely related to my current position. I am not at a loss for entrepreneurship stories, and these tie more neatly in to the most common essay themes (leadership, team-building, etc). I don't want to ignore the early years, especially if it might spook or confuse the adcom, but I am hesitant to use an entire essay on older stories, less relevant stories.

Tell it! Look dude, you have a 10 million dollar business, for your goals work with that, and that will be convincing enough. For the story, if nothing else, your beginning is great for it's uniqueness and flair, and it would be foolish to drop that off, as it surely will make your application a fun one to read (believe you me, a niiiiice gift when you go through hundreds...)

And dude, best of luck to you!
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Jon Frank
Founder, Admissionado

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